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Van der Spurt, Jan Baptist

Sint-Niklaas, 02/02/1824 > Sint-Niklaas, 09/01/1853


Van der Spurt, Jan Baptist

by Jan Dewilde

Flute-player Jan Van der Spurt descended from a musical family, one of his brothers imparting to him the basics of music. Subsequently he studied flute with Paul Wittock and Geeraerdts. In Lokeren he took organ and piano classes with Egidus Smits. At the age of 12 Van der Spurt performed already as a soloist for an audience. Van der Spurt lived for a while in Ghent, where he was probably in touch with Karel Miry. In 1854 he was appointed as solo flute at the ‘Théâtre français’ (the French Opera) in Antwerp. But already after a year he undertook a concert tour in Germany. He was greatly acclaimed in Frankfurt and at the royal court in Dresden.

In 1844 he was again in his native city of St.-Niklaas. But after a rejected application for the position of organist at Our Lady’s Church he left for Ghent or Hamme. At any rate he was the conductor of the brass band St Cecilia in Hamme from October 1846 to January 1849.

In 1850 he travelled again through Germany. There he got acquainted with the German flute-player and instrument maker Theobald Boehm. Stimulated by him Van der Spurt adopted the new Boehm flute. Out of gratitude and of admiration for his talent Boehm presented him with a silver transverse flute. Subsequently Van der Spurt was going to promote the Boehm flute in Belgium.

After a protracted illness Van der Spurt died in his native town. Despite his early death he managed to prove his mettle as a composer as well. In 1841 he published in St.-Niklaas the volume Philomele, six ‘Nederduitsche koorgezangen’ (Low German choral songs) on texts by Edward Michiels. Furthermore he composed romances, works for flute, church music and overtures and marches for brass band. It is also assumed that Van der Spurt was involved in the song collection of Jan Frans Willems.

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Joris Duytschaever)